Alexandria is Egypt's second largest city after Cairo. It holds within it the ruins of the Ptolemaic, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic eras.
Alexandria has been chosen by the Islamic Education, Science and Culture Organization as the Islamic cultural capital for 2008.
The city, conceived by Alexander of Macedonia, was intended as a Hellenistic center in Egypt, and as the link between Greece and the rich Nile Valley. If such a city was to be on the Egyptian coast, there was only one possible site, behind the screen of Pharos Island and removed from the silt thrown out by the Nile. An Egyptian townlet, Rhakotis, already existed on the shore and was a resort filled with fishermen and pirates.
A few months after the foundation, Alexander left Egypt for the East and never returned to his city. His viceroy, Cleomenes, howver, continued the expansion of the city.
Alexandria was later to become a cultural, political and economic center renowned for its Royal Library.
In 115 AD Alexandria was destroyed during the Jewish-Greek civil wars which gave Hadrian and his architect, Decriannus, an opportunity to rebuild it.
Alexandria was Egypt's capital for over 1000 years, since its establishment until the Arab conquest. Still, it maintained its cultural role, after the capital had moved to al-Fustat, its influence extending to the entire Mediterranean region.